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Blogging

What do you know about blogging?

On one hand, blogging is simple – put some words into a blogging platform and publish them. Make them good words and you’ll get lots of readers.

On the other hand, there is a lot of skill, strategy and knowledge that goes into running a good blog. And a lot of different measures for deciding if a blog is successful, or not.

leanring ABC of blogging

There is a lot to learn about blogging – but the important aspects are already with you

So what do you know about blogging?

What do you want to know about blogging?

Do you know why you care about blogging?

This isn’t a trick question I can give you an answer to.

I do think it is important to know why you are blogging (or thinking of blogging).

If you know why, you can make your blog suit that purpose and you have something to measure your success against.

For instance, if your aim is to build awareness of topic X, you can decide if 10 targeted readers is enough or if you need thousands of readers a week. Whereas if your aim is to blog to build  a habit of writing 200 words a day, a look at your post dates is an easy measure of your success.

I recently read a post by Rhianna which lists what she knows about blogging. It isn’t a technical list of how long posts should be, the best post frequency or choosing great titles, but a more basic list of what she knows about herself and her blogging purpose.

Like the Cheshire Cat said, how will you ever know you have arrived if you don’t know where you are going?

In a business context, I think this becomes even more important as time blogging could be spent elsewhere for perhaps greater profit – how do you know the blog is ‘working’ and worth the effort if you don’t know what it is meant to achieve for your business?

Even if you hire someone like me to help write or edit your blog posts, you need to know the purpose of your blog to assess it’s worth. And give direction to the writer.

So in the comments below, let me know why you blog. Or put in your ideas of maybe why you blog to help form your final answer and see if that changes how you blog.

* Images courtesy of 123rf

Attending blogging events, live or recorded

This Friday and Saturday, about 300 bloggers will descend upon Melbourne to learn more about blogging at PBEvent  with Problogger Darren Rowse.

And I’m pleased to say I will be one of them.

Why go to a blogging event?

leanring ABC of blogging

Learning the basics of blogging – and more

I can’t speak for everyone, but I know I am going because

  1. it’s great to learn new things and conferences and seminars are a good learning experience (well, good ones are anyway!)
  2. it’s good to get away from my desk occasionally
  3. blogging is an important part of my business, and part that I really enjoy, so learning more about it is a good investment for me
  4. I like the idea of meeting other bloggers

Really, it’s just like going to any conference – the topic just happens to be blogging.

And PBEvent happens to be hosted by one of the best known bloggers in Australia. And is offering some great speakers and topics (you can see the schedule here if you’re interested).

How I learn  from events

When I go to any business event, one of my aims is to learn.

I think being open to new ideas and expecting to learn is a good starting point. Sometimes the best value from an event is the ideas it sparks so you need to be open to listening and learning.

Taking notes is one way I cement the information I hear. Traditionally that has meant writing notes in a notepad but obviously people have more options these days – I’m still inclined to write notes by hand as it works better at getting information into my mind.

To be honest, I often don’t read those notes again, and certainly not often. However, just the act of writing notes helps me retain the information better.

I also find that tweeting snippets of information is a great learning tool. By deciding something is valuable enough to share and putting into few words (I try for less than the allowed 140 characters) makes that point stronger for me. And hopefully it is providing value to my followers as well.

Tweeting information during a webinar is easy. I haven’t yet tried it at a live event but may give it a go during PBEvent.

If nothing else, I can reread my tweets afterwards as a reminder of some key information.

Live or recorded?

There are distinct advantages to live and recorded information sessions, I think.

Going to a live event obviously has the advantages of a new environment and networking with other people. It also means you can potentially interact with the speaker(s), ask questions and participate in the atmosphere. Sometimes you get additional opportunities, too, such as handouts, ‘conference only’ discounts and yummy food!

Listening to a recording of an event gives you more flexibility – you can hear it at whatever time suits you – and saves travelling time and expense. For information packed sessions, a recording also means you can pause and rewind the recording to catch important bits and make sure you understand things. For a poor sessions, it is also very easy to turn it off and get on with other things!

Which do you prefer? Have you tried both options?

I attend more webinars because of the convenience, but I like to attend some live events every year as well to interact with people.

Problogger Event

With the Problogger event, I get both as all sessions are being recorded so I can listen to them after the weekend. Which means I can relisten to important bits I missed but more importantly, I can hear the sessions I don’t attend (part of the weekend has two sessions running at the same time). And slide presentations will be included with the recordings, too.

The recordings are also available for non-attendees via a virtual ticket (which are being sold at a 25% discount until mid afternoon today Melbourne time I believe). You can grab a virtual ticket and get access to over 21 hours of blogging information plus a live Q and A sessions with Problogger next week (it is an affiliate link but I honestly think it is good value – and much cheaper than what I’ve paid to attend!)

And if you are going to Problogger event, or a similar event, you may enjoy the following preparation posts, too:

Blogging conferences and training events
10 things to do to prepare for PB Event 
Hot tips for Problogger ‘virgins’

Have you ever attended a blogging event? What did you get from it? And what tips have you got to share for those going to their first blogging conference?

Problogger event 2013 virtual tickets for 30 hours of training and learningUpdated September 2013: The 2013 Problogger conference is on again this month and you can choose to attend in person in Queensland (if you got a ticket fast enough!) or virtually (2013 recordings will available a short time after each sessions is run so you can listen on the conference weekend.) plus watching interactions on Twitter during sessions.

Saving time in blogging

old fashioned stopwatch sitting on a keyboard

Watching time as you type…

Upfront let me say that I don’t think blog posts should be about a quick job just for traffic – a blog is a means of communication with the best blog posts having been considered and offering value to the readers.

However, there are certainly times when getting a post or two out fast is helpful or even necessary. For instance, if you’re writing a group of posts to cover an absence, a client has given you a rush job, or you’re writing guest blog posts and forgot to write your own, then a quick-to-write post is better than no post at all.

Quick blog post tips

So here are some tips on putting together some quicker posts without making low quality posts no one would ever want to read!)

  1. make a list of related posts you’ve written in the past. This still takes time but you don’t have to think of a topic or plan your words. It also helps linking within your blog and can be very handy for a reader looking for that topic. Regular readers may be less impressed, however, if this is a big deviation from normal or they have just read those posts anyway. There are plugins that can help you manage this, too.
  2. Delegate various tasks  to your team or outsource to someone else (a VA or ghost writer for example)
  3. prepare a list of quotes or stories that you can post quickly as needed. An inspiring quote can create an interesting post by itself, or you can use it as the starting point of a discussion
  4. keep a list of blog post ideas – a notepad, computer document or private blog post can be a handy reference point. It still takes time to write posts but it does save time if you don’t have to think of topics first
  5. Split a long blog post. If your current post is turning out to be very long, splitting it up gives you multiple posts and also is probably easier for people to read and comprehend
  6. get someone else to write the posts! Hiring a ghost writer is covered by point 2, but your other option is to use guest bloggers. This will definitely save your writing time but may take a fair amount of time depending on how you set up the arrangement.
  7. make some set blogging times each fortnight or month and write multiple posts in that time. It saves time to write a few posts at once because you have the program open and are in the right mindset. I like to have the occasional big writing session and schedule a post a week for as many weeks as I can manage so that I know I have posts coming up even if I’m unable to write for a few days. Alternatively, have a series of posts written and upload or schedule them at those times you really need to save time.
  8. look at some plugins as they can automate things to make life easier, depending on what you do with your blog. For example, I use subscribe2 to enable people to sign up for an email each time I post (rather than having to send an email myself) and leenk.me to tweet new posts to my twitter profile

What are your favourite time savers for blogging?

Blogging for promotions

Thanks to some external limitations, I found some time to catch up on some blog reading this morning.

Let me start by saying I do believe in blogs as a promotional tool in business – they are a great way to keep a site fresh, to build a relationship with clients and build your credibility. Yes, there are many social media choices now but I don’t think they are replacing blogs. Personally, I learn more from reading a good blog post than a tweet for instance!

A blog on your domain is going to give more SEO advantages than other social media options, too.

Des Walsh blogged about some survey results about blogs and business. He wrote “Companies with 10 or fewer employees are 30% more likely to use social media for public relations, branding and understanding customers. And they are twice as likely as large companies to use social media for lead generation.”

It certainly didn’t surprise me that small businesses use more social media than large ones – there is the obvious budget differences meaning small business owners need to find more affordable ways to interact with potential customers. I also think that many small businesses do well because they provide a personal service (no account managers or moving customers between departments, and a stronger sense of ownership) and social media depends on the personal side of a business.

If you are a sole trader, the approval process is easy; if you work in a large company, especially if it is heavily regulated, the effort of getting blog posts, tweets and so on approved can be huge – and the time involved takes away form the immediate nature of social media anyway.

From the blogs you read, would you agree that small businesses use more social media than their bigger counterparts?

Need blogging help?

blog key for helpI have just found out that Simpleology is running a course on blogging (how to get one started and working well I believe.) What’s more, you can download a copy for free if you’re willing to blog about it yourself 🙂

So, here is the info from them:

Here’s a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they’re letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I have downloaded it so I’ll read it and review it here – but just in case it doesn’t stay free for very long I thought I’d better tell you now so you can grab a copy (you can always delete it if it isn’t any good!)

Blogging skills

I found a post  about developing your skills at blogging which I thought worth mentioning. It is also relevant on the whole for newsletter writing.

It doesn’t mention ‘be yourself’ directly, but I think that is the only major point I would add to the list.

In summary, Chris Garrett gives 10 points that lead to successful blogging:

  1. blog by example
  2. blog with passion
  3. be organised (well, I can’t always get 10 out of 10!)
  4. delegate
  5. take ownership & responsibility
  6. communicate effectively (hopefully, that’s where my tips come in handy!)
  7. be brave & honest
  8. listen
  9. know your readers
  10. be a reader

I found number 7 interesting – I am always honest in my blog but don’t feel I am particularly brave as communications isn’t usually very controversial 🙂 But then I read Chris’ comments about this to find him saying pretty much the same thing and suggesting there is bravery in choosing and presenting topics.

Which of the above points do you find most challenging in your blog writing?

Why have a business blog?

hit the blog key for your business!I would write about the advantages of blogs, but I found this great post by Kenton Newby so I thought I’d link to that instead 🙂

Kenton wrote ‘Why every business owner should have a blog’ If you are running a business and don’t have a blog, this is a post worth reading and thinking about.

If you do decide to start a blog, you may find the audio and notes from the blogging for beginners talk I did last week useful, as well as my posts on blogging.

 

(July 2012 update – Sorry the notes are no longer available online but I am looking to produce some similar notes in an eBook format – leave a comment below and I’ll let you know when these become available).

Challenge completed!

Along with some other Business Mums, I accepted a challenge of doing one post every day this week – and I did it 🙂 I wrote some of them in a group and just predated them to publish one day at a time, but it wasn’t always easy to think of topics to write about on demand.

However, I met the challenge, so maybe this is a challenge you could set for your blog, too.

Some of the other blogs in the challenge were:

http://preciouswater.com.au/blog/
www.mydayoff.com.au
www.melissakhalinsky.com/blog
http://marakye.blogspot.com/
http://smallbusinessdiva.wordpress.com
http://buffmineralcosmetics.blogspot.com/
http://home.exetel.com.au/huysing/wordpress/
http://kidsmusiccompany.wordpress.com